Activities in the LULUCF sector can provide a relatively cost-effective way of offsetting emissions, either by increasing the removals of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere (e.g. by planting trees or managing forests), or by reducing emissions (e.g. by curbing deforestation). However, there are drawbacks as it may often be difficult to estimate greenhouse gas removals and emissions resulting from activities of LULUCF. In addition, greenhouse gases may be unintentionally released into the atmosphere if a sink is damaged or destroyed through a forest fire or disease.
Under Article 3.3 of the Kyoto Protocol, Parties decided that greenhouse gas removals and emissions through certain activities — namely, afforestation and reforestation since 1990 — are accounted for in meeting the Kyoto Protocol’s emission targets. Conversely, emissions from deforestation activities will be subtracted from the amount of emissions that an Annex I Party may emit over its commitment period. Under Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol, Parties could elect additional human-induced activities related to LULUCF, specifically, forest management, cropland management, grazing land management and revegetation, to be included in its accounting for the first commitment period.
Outstanding issues such as the definitions of LULUCF activities under Article 3.3 and Article 3.4 and the rules for accounting of these activities were resolved and agreed on as part of the Marrakesh Accords.